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Evaluation of the Ross fast solution of Richards’ equation in unfavourable conditions for standard finite element methods

Abstract : Ross [Ross PJ. Modeling soil water and solute transport – fast, simplified numerical solutions. Agron J 2003;95:1352–61] developed a fast, simplified method for solving Richards’ equation. This non-iterative 1D approach, using Brooks and Corey [Brooks RH, Corey AT. Hydraulic properties of porous media. Hydrol. papers, Colorado St. Univ., Fort Collins; 1964] hydraulic functions, allows a significant reduction in computing time while maintaining the accuracy of the results. The first aim of this work is to confirm these results in a more extensive set of problems, including those that would lead to serious numerical difficulties for the standard numerical method. The second aim is to validate a generalisation of the Ross method to other mathematical representations of hydraulic functions. The Ross method is compared with the standard finite element model, Hydrus-1D [Simunek J, Sejna M, Van Genuchten MTh. The HYDRUS-1D and HYDRUS-2D codes for estimating unsaturated soil hydraulic and solutes transport parameters. Agron Abstr 357; 1999]. Computing time, accuracy of results and robustness of numerical schemes are monitored in 1D simulations involving different types of homogeneous soils, grids and hydrological conditions. The Ross method associated with modified Van Genuchten hydraulic functions [Vogel T, Cislerova M. On the reliability of unsaturated hydraulic conductivity calculated from the moisture retention curve. Transport Porous Media 1988;3:1–15] proves in every tested scenario to be more robust numerically, and the compromise of computing time/accuracy is seen to be particularly improved on coarse grids. Ross method run from 1.25 to 14 times faster than Hydrus-1D
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David Crevoisier, Andre Chanzy, Marc Voltz. Evaluation of the Ross fast solution of Richards’ equation in unfavourable conditions for standard finite element methods. Advances in Water Resources, Elsevier, 2009, 32 (6), pp.936-947. ⟨10.1016/j.advwatres.2009.03.008⟩. ⟨hal-02662572⟩

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